Growing up in a small town has its advantages. My brother Christopher and I lived with our grandma and grandpa Walters. Oh, and by the way, I’m Juliana. We knew all our neighbors by name including their pets. Sometimes the neighborhood pets were the best friends of all, especially Mrs. Brimlie’s dog Charlie. No one knew what kind of a dog Charlie was; we just knew he was one of a kind.
Charlie was a friendly neighbor; he made daily visits to everyone. He always enjoyed sharing a bite of food here and there. His daily visits included the children, the elderly, and often spent the day sitting with someone who was feeling sad. Charlie was just a very nice soul that happened to be inside a fur coat. Everyone had a story to tell about Charlie; he was always helping someone.
Each Sunday morning Charlie waited outside the church while Mrs. Brimlie attended service; I’m surprised he didn’t come right on inside. One spectacular spring day after service the whole town gathered down by Lodge Pole Creek for a big picnic. It was actually a church picnic, but everyone went whether they attended church or not. There was not much excitement in our small town, so you can clearly see a picnic was a major event. Everyone attended including Charlie.
A game of horseshoes was set up, the baseball diamond staked out, and several Frisbees ready for flight in honor of Charlie. Several large wooden tables were covered with food. It was a splendid picnic. I remember it like it was yesterday although more than twenty years have past.
My brother and I ran ahead and picked a spot under a big tree to spread out our picnic-blanket, the perfect place for our grandparents to relax and enjoy watching all the fun. We filled our plates set on our blanket visiting with people as they came by. It was time for the games to begin.
“Grandma, can we go play now?” My brother and I spoke at the same time.
A lively game of horseshoes started using rubber horseshoes. Charlie was so excited; he loved running in the middle of the game and catching the horseshoes in midair. You see, Charlie was a big dog weighing almost 70 pounds. I guess those playing the game didn’t appreciate Charlie’s antics as much as the spectators.
The players began shouting, “Do something with this dog.”
The children called Charlie over for a Frisbee chase; Charlie loved catching Frisbees even more than horseshoes. In between games Charlie found time to visit with all his friends. He loved everyone, especially the children.
The adults were resting, full from eating and watching the children running and playing hide-n-seek.
All of a sudden the children were yelling. “HELP!! HELP!!”
One of the little ones wondered too close to the creek and fell in. Guess who got there first—of course, Charlie. He jumped right in, grabbed hold of little Tommy’s shirt, and pulled him to safety. Charlie was our hero.
This started a round of stories about our hero. Mr. Topple told how Charlie comes by exactly at ten o’clock every morning to help him wait for the mail. Mr. Topple’s son moved to the big city; news of how he’s doing was the highlight of Mr. Topple’s week. Charlie quietly set worrying right along side Mr. Topple. When the much looked for letter would show up Mr. Topple always read it to Charlie first. His son made sure to send a big hug to Charlie. Mr. Topple would give him a treat and Charlie would be on his way.
My brother and I took turns telling about the time Charlie was playing a game of Frisbee with us after school. The Frisbee landed in the big oak tree in our front yard. We tried but couldn’t get it down. Charlie put his big paws on the trunk of the tree and began barking. He was so large it caused the Frisbee to come flying down and, of course, Charlie caught it. Each story had to top the other, but they were all basically true.
Mrs. Brimlie feeling sentimental, said, “You know Charlie doesn’t really belong to me, he belongs to the whole town, and that is fine with me.”
Charlie barked, wagging his tail. Charlie did belong to the whole town.
Charlie—a big golden dog that everyone loved.
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